Don’t Eat that Cookie – Mental Toughness

Who said Mental Toughness is Over-rated?


Can you depend on your mental toughness skills to stick to a diet?


“What the hell! Carpe diem! Let the binge play out.” Somewhere between the second and third week, Shirley’s grand schemes to adhere to her diet, ends with the above three sentences.

The same scenario plays out all the time. Shirley turbo-charges her willpower and grinds through the first and sometimes second week, abiding strictly to her diet. Then, in the third week, she accepts her friends’ invitation to a cup of coffee.

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Do Not Eat That Cookie! – Self-control

They chat away leisurely over steaming coffee. The conversation is warm and lively. The air is perfumed by the unique flair of brewed coffee and the aroma of cookies, muffins and an assortment of treats.

Shirley is expending a tremendous amount of willpower to resist her cravings to grab a bite. She has spent the past 2weeks defeating similar temptations to break her diet. But today, when one of her peers, extends the appetizing cookie saucer to Shirley …

And says, “Don’t be so hard on yourself! Just one bite won’t kill you.”

“Ok! Just one.” Shirley replies, falling for the temptation. The cookie dissolves in your mouth with “hmms and ayyhs” of liberating delight. Her mind is jubilating in bliss. In the same moment of guilty pleasure, it occurs to Shirley that, she has just broken her diet again.

The “what the hell effect” kicks in.

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Knowing is Not Enough. You Must Apply the Knowledge!

Shirley thinks to herself, since I’ve already broken my diet, why don’t I just make the best of it.


Carpe diem! The binge is unbridled. The tight, disciplined diet schedule she’d maintained for 2weeks flies out the window of indulgence.

Her ravenous fingers move from the cookie saucer to the muffin basket, back and forth. By the time the coffee break is over, Shirley’s avaricious stomach is beaming with satisfaction.

But her tortured mind is filled with regret. She is awe-struck with total disbelief, that she did it again. She broke the diet; she’d vowed to keep.

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Why Did I Binge? – Mental Toughness
What went wrong?

A Willpower Lesson from 4year Olds – Mental Toughness

Back in the 1960s, the Stanford university professor Walter Mischel conducted a series of self-control experiments, now known as the marshmallow tests.

In modern psychological studies on self-control, no other experiments are more frequently cited than the marshmallow tests.


In the experiments, Walter Mischel offered each kid a deal before leaving the kid alone with the marshmallow. One by one, Walter sat a kid in the test room and placed a marshmallow in front of him/her. Walter would explain to each kid that, s/he could eat the marshmallow right away or s/he could wait for 15minutes. If the kid successfully waits for 15minutes till he returns, Walter would reward the kid with a second marshmallow.

Some of the kids chose not to wait and ate the marshmallow right away.

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Marshmallows – Mental Toughness
Some of the kids tried to wait. They stared at the delicious marshmallow, willing themselves to resist. But they gave in before the 15minutes were over and ate the marshmallow.

A few kids succeeded to wait through the entire 15 minutes. These are the 4year olds; from whom, we can all learn. They can certainly teach Shirley a compelling willpower lesson on resisting cookies.

Professor Mischel’s experiments didn’t end in the laboratory. He spent the next 3 decades surveying and collecting detailed scientific data on these kids. It turned out that the kids, who were able to resist the marshmallows, were more successful in life. They scored higher on SAT exams, attained higher levels of education, earned higher median incomes, maintained a healthy weight, had higher equity and succeeded in maintaining longer relationships.

The shocking implications of these 1990s findings are profound.

Experiences in childhood have a major impact on your later outcomes in adulthood.

Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis had reached the same conclusion. However, by the mid 1960s, nothing was more popular in psychology than discrediting Freud. It turns out that, the Austrian psychologist had that one right, after all.

Your self-control during childhood is a reliable indicator of your current results.

Can you acquire you acquire the self-control skills to stick to a diet?


Good news! Yes, self-control is a totally learnable skill.

Distraction is the Philosopher’s Stone of Willpower – Mental Toughness

Re-watch the video and pay close attention to the 4year old kids, who succeeded to wait through the entire 15minutes.

There is a simple factor, common to all the kids who succeeded. Some of the kids were kicking about aimlessly, others twirling their hair, twinkling with their eyes or making strange noises.

Each kid was DISTRACTING himself/herself in his/her own way.

Your willpower is for self-control, even Shirley knows that. But you do not control yourself by steely determination or colossal resolve. The trick is to use your willpower to distract yourself.

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Self-distraction -Mental Toughness

If you are going to succeed to follow through on your diet, the art of self-distraction must become an indispensable part of your mental toughness toolkit.

Wake Up: Mental Toughness

You are doomed unless you master the mental toughness game.

How come, you cannot do the simplest thing in the world? It is obviously simple and easy because millions of people wake up on time every day and go about their activities.

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Waking Up on Time is a Mental Toughness Game
Less than 5% of the population of any quasi-free country makes it to the esteemed club of millionaires. Many desire to be rich but only a few successfully become rich. Therefore, becoming a millionaire is hard because only a few achieve this goal. Waking up on time is a totally different story. It is so easy, that millions of ordinary people do it every day.

How come the average Joe succeeds at getting up on time but not you?

Go figure!

Guess what that implies! It implies that you are below average.

Yes, I said it. I dare you to face the truth. As far as waking up on time is concerned, you are below average. Shame on you! The source of your shame is self-betrayal. The source of your shame is the failure to live up to your standards. The damage to your self-esteem is not the only price you pay for this lack of self-discipline. Your productivity is also falling short of the results which, you are capable of achieving.

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Face the Truth – Mental Toughness
Stop reading, if you wish to continue, dragging yourself through life in shame and under-productivity.

The Power of Habits – Mental Toughness

You want to consistently wake up, when your alarm goes off.

That is your goal!

How do you achieve this goal?

Form habits! The key is to make waking up on time a habit. But how can you form the habit of waking on time? Before you learn the right way of forming this habit, let’s go through the wrong ways.

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Form the Right Habits – Mental Toughness
The Wrong Ways to get yourself to Consistently Wake Up on Time

You have probably tried a few of these tactics already.

The most obvious one is increasing the volume of your alarm clock. You quickly discovered that it wasn’t of much help.

Have you tried installing your alarm at the other end of the room? The rational is that, you’ll have to get up and walk across the room to turn it off. And you hoped that, you will become fully awake by the time, you walked across the room to turn off the alarm. Yes, you did become fully awake but that didn’t stop you, from slipping right back into your seductively warm bed.

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You bought an ingenious gadget? You might have tried one of those radio alarm clocks, which blast loud music, coupled with sporadic beams of blinding light. Perhaps you tried an alarm clock, which moves about the room. Then, there is the puzzle clock. You will be unable to turn off the alarm; unless, you solve the puzzle.

Did you take the game to a whole new level with a flying alarm clock? Perhaps you tried one of those alarms, which eject its key. Every morning the key flies off to an unpredictable part of your room. You cannot turn off the alarm unless you find that key. Every morning, you are forced to switch on the lights to find the key.

Again, the same rational applies. By the time you solved the puzzle or found the key, you would have become fully awaken. And hopefully, you would not return to bed.

It worked! Didn’t it? But only for a few days or weeks. Then you regressed right back to the old you. You found a way around it: like pulling the plug out of the socket, sleeping through the alarm or mechanically going through all the motions of turning off the alarm, then going right back to bed.

How many other techniques have you tried? Have you tried sleeping with your curtains open? The rational here is that, the rays of sunlight spilling through your window will force you to wake up.

Have you tried biological technology? Biological technology consists of drinking a glass of water, before going to bed. And hope that, you will feel an urge to take a leak, at about the same time; you are supposed to wake up. This technique also builds on the erroneous assumption that, you will not return to bed after taking the leak.

How about keeping lemon fruit by the alarm clock? The big idea is sucking some lemon juice and having the sharp taste startle you into full wakefulness.

Come on, now!

Stop that!

If you keep going, there is no end to these ideas. One of these days, you are going to purchase electro-shocks and try to shock yourself awake.

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Self-disciplines is All You Need – Mental Toughness

The Right Way to Form the Habit of Consistently Waking Up on Time: Mental Toughness

Let’s start with the axiomatic.

You are not superman!

That sounds obvious. But believe me, when I tell you that I didn’t know that. I thought I was superman. When I first started building my business, I attempted to operate on 3hours of sleep. To make a long story short, you cannot expect to wake up on time every day; unless, you are having adequate sleep. The definition of adequate sleep is at least 6hours a day.

When I was in the Special Forces, we used to operate for weeks on 3hours of sleep and heavy doses of coffee and guarana confectionaries. My activities in the army were mostly physical. When I started my business, I somehow missed the fact that, the difference between physical and mental work is as wide as the diameter of the universe.

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Try waking up consistently on less than 5hours of sleep every day and you are doomed. The first rule is to sleep long enough. To be safe, sleep for at least 6hours a day.

Pre-commitment Technique

Pre-commitment is the gateway to self-discipline. Pre-commitment is a mental toughness war game. Your mind is the battlefield.

No hi-tech gadget can win the war in your mind. Win the war in your mind and waking up will become as easy as breathing. What could be more natural than a cycle of sleeping and waking up? What could be more natural than the cycle of inhalation and exhalation?

Breathing is so natural that, you do not give it a second thought. That is how simple and natural waking up will become to you. But first, you must undergo 30days of pain. 30days is the length of time to form a new habit.

You have got two selves. There is the present-you (now-you), who set the alarm clock and there is the future-you, who must decide to wake up or to procrastinate.

The first step of pre-commitment is to recognize that, future-you is a pleasure-loving creature, who cannot be trusted.

When the alarm goes off, future-you is going to face two basic choices: either suffer fleeting pain or indulge in momentary pleasure.

You are consistent. Your intentions and actions are in synchrony. You do, what you say, you will do. When the alarm goes off, you first instinct is to be true to yourself i.e. to be consistent.

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Use Pre-commitment to Lock Future-you in a Righteous Path
But at this exact moment, nothing is sweeter than the lure of your bed. It is so sweet; you would rather snooze than have sex. If you ever doubt that treasures of untapped genius reside within your incredibly powerful brain, pay close attention to this moment. You will discover your unique unparalleled genius. This discovery about yourself should make you wonder why, you are not writing international bestsellers.

In an instant, your powerful mind will generate half a dozen seductively brilliant rationalizations; why, you must snooze. Your mind will present you with cunningly clever reasons; why, you must return to sleep. If you pay close attention, you will be shocked with amazement at this spark of creative genius. Your most creative imaginations, when you are fully awake, are pale in comparison to the glow of pure, undiluted genius.

Your only chance is to recognize the reasons, which your mind presents you, for what, they truly are: rationalizations. And you must recognize these rationalizations in advance. That is the now-you must make this recognition.

The now-you must also resolve to feel the pain of waking up.

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Mental Toughness

Yes, it is painful and you must pre-commitment to feel this pain.

Your only consolation is that, the pain of discipline lasts for only 30days. Once waking up becomes a habit as natural as breathing, you will cease to feel the pain of self-discipline.

Read my mental toughness posts on pre-commitment techniques to find out how to embrace the pain of self-discipline.